Below The Line presented All Is Lost Saturday as its latest Screening Series film. Robert Redford stars as Our Man, flung into overwhelming peril in the Indian Ocean when a collision with a shipping container renders his sailboat vulnerable to the wind and waves of deep sea. Taking advantage of all resources, Our Man troubleshoots through life threatening circumstances while at times only yards away from rescue.
The Linwood Dunn Theater hosted a full house that experienced both a screening and Q & A session. Director J.C. Chandor, director of photography Frank DeMarco, editor Peter Beaudreau, production designer John P. Goldsmith, sound editor Richard Hymns, and sound mixer and editor Steve Boeddeker were present.
“I actually conceived of the film before I really ever knew I’d be able to direct again,” said Chandor. He first pitched the idea to Beaudreau, editor of his Academy Award-nominated film Margin Call. “I remember sort of breaking it down in some ridiculous way to make it seem justifiable that the guy was never going to talk,” Chandor said. He wrote 20 of the eventual 31-page script during the week before Margin Call’s Sundance premiere.
Beaudreau initially edited without sound, saving time and offering a creative license to the sound team. “To focus purely on telling the story, I went with visual storytelling, not getting bogged down by sound at all,” Beaudreau said. “I wanted to focus on finding the tension.”
Without dialogue or music as a focal point, Hymns and Boeddeker concentrated on making the sailboat a character from Our Man’s perspective. “Richard arranged for us to go out sailing… he takes us out on a day that there’s a storm… and forgot to tell us there’s a small craft advisory,” Boeddeker said regarding their commitment to authentic sound.
To achieve an intimate look, DeMarco endured tight spaces and raft sequences. Chandor compared DeMarco’s challenge of operating a 60-pound camera while in a raft to Our Man’s challenge in the film. DeMarco chose not to use the shooting portholes Goldsmith added to the sailboat to evoke the subjective experience of Our Man’s situation rather than have the audience adopt the perspective of an outsider.
Goldsmith built a recreation of the sailboat’s interior on a rig used to simulate rolling caused by the stormy sea. “…all of the props inside made out of foam, it was essentially a jumpy castle,” Chandor said. “…that allowed Mr. Redford to be in most of that sequence.” Other design choices, such as the monochromatic interior suggesting normalcy and orange items for emergency, helped translate Our Man’s situation.
Thus far, the highly rated All is Lost has opened on the art theater circuit with a greater rollout upcoming.